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Oilers demote Evander Kane to third line, reunite Leon Draisaitl with Ryan McLeod, Warren Foegele

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers have mixed up their lines ahead of Saturday morning’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, demoting Evander Kane to the third line and reuniting a line that worked earlier this season.
It comes off the heels of a disappointing effort Thursday night against the Blue Jackets, in which the Oilers fell 4-2 despite trying to mount a late game comeback.
The Oilers’ top line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman, one of the best in the league, will remain together, while the other three lines have been mixed up. While the most notable move is Kane getting put on the third line alongside Adam Henrique and Corey Perry, Kris Knoblauch and co. reunited the line of Ryan McLeod, Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele — a trio that caught fire during the Oilers’ 16-game winning streak.
The fourth line see Connor Brown slide back into the mix after being scratched against the Jackets and will skate along Sam Carrick and Mattias Janmark.
Edmonton’s defensive pairings will remain the same.
For Kane, an up-and-down season continues. While he started the season on fire, scoring 11 goals and 20 points in the first 22 games, his production has fallen off a cliff since, scoring just 10 goals and 17 points in his most recent 38 games. Over that time, Kane spent 60 percent of his 5v5 ice time (206 minutes out of 546 minutes) alongside Draisaitl in the top six. His 5v5 production — seven goals and 12 points — has been passed by other players like McLeod (eight goals and 15 points) and Foegele (seven goals and 19 points).
Henrique and Perry have experience together, playing 237 5v5 minutes between the 2017-18 and 2018-29 season, faring moderately over that stretch. They controlled 46.99 percent of the shot attempt share, 50.48 percent of the scoring chances, 50.92 percent of the expected goal share, and an even 50 percent of the actual goals scored. Backed by solid goaltending in a .934 save percentage, they had an on-ice shooting percentage of 7.21.
Edmonton’s second line of McLeod, Draisaitl and Foegele has seen a good amount of time this season at 5v5, 89 minutes to be exact, outscoring the opposition 10-3. They also have controlled 60 percent of the expected goal share and 54.59 percent of the shot attempt share. Their on-ice shooting percentage was highly inflated at 16.39 percent, so some of that goal-scoring rate will dip, but they’ve done a great job of controlling the pace of play.
What’s important about all these lines is that it helps spread out the offence. The Oilers this year have been at their best when McDavid and Draisaitl are playing on separate lines, and Kane is still a natural goal scorer pacing for 30 goals. Kane being the triggerman alongside Henrique and Perry should allow for more offence to come from the Oilers’ bottom six.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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